PDA

View Full Version : Valley in the spotlight


JimNasium
12-21-2006, 07:43 AM
http://vh10175.moc.gbahn.net/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=DO&Date=20061221&Category=SPORTS040101&ArtNo=612210392&Ref=AR&Profile=1002&MaxW=500&MaxH=400&title=1
Link (http://www.news-leader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061221/SPORTS040101/612210392/1002/SPORTS)

NATIONAL MEDIA PAYING ATTENTION »

Valley in the spotlight

"Something has gone haywire with this computer system . . . I mean, the ACC and the Big 12 generated the same number of bids (four) as the Missouri Valley? I don't buy it."

-- CBS broadcaster Jim Nantz during last year's NCAA basketball tournament selection show

- - -

The smoldering ember exploded into a blazing fire-storm on Selection Sunday in March and the national pundits picked sides.

Dick Vitale and Andy Katz in one corner, Digger Phelps and Billy Packer in the other. As the talking heads chattered, arguing the merit of having four NCAA Tournament bids from the "mid-major" Missouri Valley Conference, Barry Hinson and his Missouri State team fought back the tears, left out of the fun despite a Ratings Percentage Index power rating of No. 21, the highest ever to not be invited to the party.

The Bears might have been a victim of their own league's success. How could the Valley dare to lobby for five bids when the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Rolls Royce of college basketball leagues, could get only four?

Who did these no-names from flyover country think they were?

"The greatest 'mid-major' in the history of man," Sporting News college basketball reporter Mike DeCourcy answered. "There has never been another conference like the Missouri Valley to achieve at this level."

The national perspective of the Valley is changing, leading national publications and Web sites to change the way it covers the conference. ESPN.com and Sportingnews.com are among sites that have added staff members to specifically cover "mid-major" conferences.

Unlike last season, when national attention shifted to the Valley only after the new year, the spotlight has been shining on the 10-member league since October. The response?

Unbelievably impressive, so far. The conference ranks No. 2 in RPI behind the Atlantic Coast Conference, according to realtimerpi.com, boosted by Wichita State's blazing start and a slew of road and neutral floor wins over ranked teams.

"You can't help but cover the Valley," Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis said in a recent telephone interview.

Davis, the college basketball guru for SI.com and studio analyst for CBS, is even rearranging his holiday plans to squeeze in a New Year's Day trip to Carbondale, Ill.

"Don't tell my wife, but I'd love to see that Wichita State-Southern Illinois game," Davis said.

"That's one game in the league I would not want to miss."

- - -

Is this what they mean by the new world order? When the Missouri Valley Conference gets as many teams invited to the NCAA Tournament as the ACC and Big 12?

—Mike Lopresti, USA Today columnist, March 13, 2006

How long can the Valley keep it up? Skeptics like ESPN's Phelps and CBS' Packer remain unconvinced. Packer even went so far as to say the Valley should have a track record of success over a five- or 10-year period before thinking of getting four teams in the NCAA Tournament.

Davis doesn't buy Packer's argument, saying each season should stand on its own merit. Just as past history may have prevented the Valley from getting a fifth team in the NCAAs last March (though the committee insisted each team was judged individually and not by conference), the league shouldn't expect getting Bradley and Wichita State to the Sweet 16 last year to help them this year.

"I disagreed with Billy during the selection show that five- and 10-year trends should be taken into account," Davis said. "But you can't have it both ways. Whatever happened last year shouldn't help the Valley now."

It may not matter. Though critics surmised that the Valley had "cracked the RPI code" a year ago, skewing the numbers in their favor, the only real manipulating has been done through smart scheduling and winning games.

Southern Illinois has been the most consistent Valley team in recent years, advancing to the NCAA Tournament each of the past five seasons. SIU coach Chris Lowery said the Valley's growing reputation is built on thinking like a "high major" conference.

For SIU, that means signing only home-and-home contracts with Bowl Championship Series conference schools and avoiding one-time "payout" games or two-for-ones.

"If we want to build up our league, that's the way we believe we should do it," Lowery said. "People notice our league now nationally."

Wichita State used a guarantee game against Syracuse to its advantage, defeating the Orange 64-61 in front of 24,000 fans at the Carrier Dome. That win vaulted the Shockers into the top 10 of both polls and onto the front page of every national sports Web site that night.

"Games like that early in the season really draw your attention," said Katz, the senior college basketball writer for ESPN.com. "Because of what happened in the tournament last year and early this season, the Valley is getting a lot of recognition."

- - -

One of the best games of this last week was Missouri State against Oklahoma State. The Cowboys won the game in overtime. Still, the result of this game will be largely ignored. Why? Because the "high-major" won.

—Jay Bilas, ESPN.com Nov. 27

Set in the heart of the Big 12 Conference country, The Kansas City Star's college coverage focuses on Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State and the Big 12 as a whole.

No matter what the Valley does from November to March, that philosophy won't change. But because of the success of Wichita State and Missouri State, the Star is beefing up its Valley coverage, adding a weekly notebook.

"We get a lot of calls from people who want us to do more," said Blair Kerkhoff, the Star's Big 12 and national college reporter since 1997. "We're in the middle of the western half of the league, but we're still flyover country for the Valley. The success they've had creates enthusiasm among the fans, though, and now people want more coverage on Wichita State, Missouri State, Creighton.

"It certainly won't change the way we cover the Big 12, but we will have more Valley coverage."

Some argue that the Valley can't rise out of "mid-major" status without having a school in a major media market. St. Louis is considered the hub, housing the league offices and the conference tournament, but it doesn't have a "home" school.

Wichita, Kan., Omaha, Neb., and Des Moines, Iowa, are the Valley's three largest cities, none ranked among the top 50 national media markets.

"The only reason we have not received the national respect that we should have been receiving is because we're not in large market areas," Missouri State's Hinson said. "If Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City and St. Louis deem that we deserve respect, then we'll get it. As much as we love our local papers, there isn't the circulation of a large metropolitan area."

Katz believes good basketball is good basketball —word will get out whether it's Cedar Falls, Iowa, or New York's Madison Square Garden.

"If the Valley keeps getting teams in the tournament and advancing them, they will be recognized," Katz said. "It won't matter that they're not in major cities."

- - -

Whom would you put your money on in a Big 12-MVC Challenge? Last March's Bradley-Kansas game is usually treated like a fluke, and it seems ridiculous to suggest that the Big 12, which routinely gets McDonald's All-Americans, is collectively weaker than the Missouri Valley Conference, which is made up of schools that usually recruit second-tier players from nearby high schools.

—Michael David Smith, aolsportsblog, Dec. 9

Has the Valley transcended its "mid-major" conference tag?

SIU's Lowery prefers to call the Valley a "non-BCS league" — a conference that doesn't play Division I-A football but is in the mix with other BCS basketball conferences.

Davis says the Valley should embrace its status as a "mid-major" and play up the underdog role.

"I think it's part of lexicon and I don't think it should be taken as an insult," he said. "We are to the point now where nobody rips Syracuse when they lose at home to Wichita State. I don't know if anybody considers the Valley underrated anymore."

The Sporting News' Decourcy has heaped praise on the Valley recently, specifically Missouri State guard Blake Ahearn. Though Ahearn shrugged off the individual attention, he said the national publicity was good for the Bears' program and the league.

"Guys like Jay Bilas are saying we are no longer a mid-major conference and that's great," Ahearn said. "We're trying to get to that level as a league. Any time we have people like that praising the Valley, that's what we want to hear."

Then again, fame can be fleeting. A few hiccups can cause the doubters to surface once again. In the past week, Northern Iowa lost at Loyola of Chicago, SIU lost at Indiana, Creighton lost at Fresno State and Missouri State dropped a buzzer-beater at Saint Louis.

Within hours, Bilas was clamoring for equal treatment for all teams, writing: "... it's unfair and wrong to celebrate how great a mid-major is, then ignore the result when a major beats that good mid-major."

More proof that it's best to win and let the results speak for themselves come Selection Sunday.

"Last year, I had six teams from the Valley getting in the tournament," SI.com's Davis said. "Could you imagine that happening? Billy Packer's head would explode."

Story by Kyle Neddenriep / kneddenriep@news-leader.com - Photo illustration by Jeff Harper

duncan_idaho
12-21-2006, 08:05 AM
The News-Leader needs to get its facts straight.

Sporting News has NOT added staffers to cover the Missouri Valley. We have one college basketball writer - Mike DeCourcy. The same number of college basketball writers we've had for several years.

big nasty kcnut
12-21-2006, 08:11 AM
Billy Packer is a loser.

JimNasium
12-21-2006, 08:12 AM
The News-Leader needs to get its facts straight.

Sporting News has NOT added staffers to cover the Missouri Valley. We have one college basketball writer - Mike DeCourcy. The same number of college basketball writers we've had for several years.
Getting facts wrong is pretty typical of that rag.

HemiEd
12-21-2006, 08:12 AM
"Could you imagine that happening? Billy Packer's head would explode."

Nice read Jim, I think even Skip would enjoy this result.

JimNasium
12-21-2006, 08:14 AM
[quote]"Could you imagine that happening? Billy Packer's head would explode."[/B]

Nice read Jim, I think even Skip would enjoy this result.
Skip has the capacity to enjoy? :hmmm:

duncan_idaho
12-21-2006, 08:14 AM
Getting facts wrong is pretty typical of that rag.

Sad, because they should dominate a 75-mile radius. That paper has tremendous money-making potential... but from what I hear, they don't have people in charge who know how to take advantage of their situation.

DMAC
12-21-2006, 08:18 AM
Mo St would have won at STL if they would not have brought their camera crew.

First they waved off the last second tip in, then looked at the replay and counted the bucket.

If Mo State didn't bring their camera crew they would not have had the instant replay to look at.

HemiEd
12-21-2006, 08:21 AM
Skip has the capacity to enjoy? :hmmm:

I think it is possible, yesterday he said Tulsa had an airport.

duncan_idaho
12-21-2006, 08:27 AM
Mo St would have won at STL if they would not have brought their camera crew.

First they waved off the last second tip in, then looked at the replay and counted the bucket.

If Mo State didn't bring their camera crew they would not have had the instant replay to look at.

And if they had made free throws down the stretch, it wouldn't have mattered.

I think that's the thing that impresses me most about Valley teams - they usually do the little things you have to do to win. So it's surprising to see them not do that.

The funny thing: The fluke win against SMS has prompted all sorts of "SLU is great!" talk up here. I'm looking forward to them shutting up after UNC pounds SLU into dog meat tomorrow...

Question for you Valley fans: The conference seems awfully senior-heavy. SIU, Creighton and Wichita State have proven they can sustain success. What about the rest of the schools (UNI, that school in Springfield, etc)? Do they have players in place to step in? I think the biggest advantage the Valley has is that it recruits 4-year players, and that experience often is enough to overcome the superior athletic talent of BCS conference teams...

StcChief
12-21-2006, 08:34 AM
Agree....The Valley has some good BB programs.

Being an SIU-C alumni, this all started with Walt Frasier,
in the mid 70s Mike Glenn was the player there.

Glad to see them getting recognized finally.

JimNasium
12-21-2006, 08:35 AM
Mo St would have won at STL if they would not have brought their camera crew.

First they waved off the last second tip in, then looked at the replay and counted the bucket.

If Mo State didn't bring their camera crew they would not have had the instant replay to look at.
It turns out that the initial call was right too. The camera was on the wrong clock. :shake:

DMAC
12-21-2006, 08:36 AM
It turns out that the initial call was right too. The camera was on the wrong clock. :shake:Huh? Are you saying that shot shouldn't have counted?

JimNasium
12-21-2006, 08:37 AM
And if they had made free throws down the stretch, it wouldn't have mattered.

I think that's the thing that impresses me most about Valley teams - they usually do the little things you have to do to win. So it's surprising to see them not do that.

The funny thing: The fluke win against SMS has prompted all sorts of "SLU is great!" talk up here. I'm looking forward to them shutting up after UNC pounds SLU into dog meat tomorrow...

Question for you Valley fans: The conference seems awfully senior-heavy. SIU, Creighton and Wichita State have proven they can sustain success. What about the rest of the schools (UNI, that school in Springfield, etc)? Do they have players in place to step in? I think the biggest advantage the Valley has is that it recruits 4-year players, and that experience often is enough to overcome the superior athletic talent of BCS conference teams...
Hinson is a good recruiter but is questionable as a bench coach. They've got some solid talent on the bench so I think they'll be good next season too. I've heard that Hinson is not content with his contract and is looking to leave after this season. Wouldn't break my heart to see him go.

JimNasium
12-21-2006, 08:38 AM
Huh? Are you saying that shot shouldn't have counted?
Yep. :( http://www.news-leader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061221/SPORTS040101/612210391/1002/SPORTS

DMAC
12-21-2006, 09:23 AM
Yep. :( http://www.news-leader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061221/SPORTS040101/612210391/1002/SPORTS

Dang...I guess now they will just have to win out!! :rockon:

JimNasium
12-21-2006, 09:44 AM
Dang...I guess now they will just have to win out!! :rockon:
I'm still not sure how good this team is. I hope they can come out strong in conference play. That would be a nice change for once.

DMAC
12-21-2006, 09:46 AM
I'm still not sure how good this team is. I hope they can come out strong in conference play. That would be a nice change for once.You better be there Jan 7. They need a full house rockin the place.

journeyscarab
12-21-2006, 10:06 AM
GO SHOCKERS!

Nice to see the Valley getting some recognition. You can find WSU stuff here in KC now at Sports Nutz and the Kansas Sampler.

DMAC
12-21-2006, 10:10 AM
GO SHOCKERS!

Nice to see the Valley getting some recognition. You can find WSU stuff here in KC now at Sports Nutz and the Kansas Sampler.We're gonna take you down on Jan 7...Oh Yeah!!!:bang:

journeyscarab
12-21-2006, 10:31 AM
We're gonna take you down on Jan 7...Oh Yeah!!!:bang:
nlm :spank:

;)

HemiEd
12-21-2006, 10:53 AM
You better be there Jan 7. They need a full house rockin the place.

I think Zach posted a picture of the very nice new facility last year, how many people will it seat? :hmmm:



I hope the Shocks send them all home dissapointed. :D

DMAC
12-21-2006, 11:02 AM
I think Zach posted a picture of the very nice new facility last year, how many people will it seat? :hmmm:



I hope the Shocks send them all home dissapointed. :DThat's not built yet...but I think it is supposed to hold 12K

WilliamTheIrish
12-21-2006, 11:24 AM
Being an SIU-C alumni, this all started with Walt Frasier

And coached by Jack Hartman.

Pitt Gorilla
12-21-2006, 12:32 PM
Question for you Valley fans: The conference seems awfully senior-heavy. SIU, Creighton and Wichita State have proven they can sustain success. What about the rest of the schools (UNI, that school in Springfield, etc)? Do they have players in place to step in? I think the biggest advantage the Valley has is that it recruits 4-year players, and that experience often is enough to overcome the superior athletic talent of BCS conference teams...UNI is a very young team. However, the young players will really have to step up if the Panthers plan on making the tourney over the next couple of years. Stout had a breakout year as a junior last year but hasn't been quite the same since breaking his arm over the summer. UNI plays 4 freshmen and they do well, but not well enough to be anywhere near elite. Coleman is a junior and is an absolute monster. McCowan is a senior pg and runs the show. Getting someone to fill his shoes next year will be critical to continued success.